Product Sales: Why Do It and How to Get Started

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until we show it to them”

– Steve Jobs

I never knew how much I cared about light fixtures. When my husband, David, and I started our home renovation last year, everything changed. I spent 6 months making decisions about paint color and flooring, drawer pulls and water faucets; I began to realize that I had options I never even knew about! Researching online from Home Depot to Wayfair to–perhaps the most dangerous of all–Pinterest, I marveled at the multitude of opportunities that were out there for me to be MORE creatively satisfied…and to spend MORE money.

My home renovation experience mirrors what we offer to our clients as photographers. Many clients are perfectly happy with digital files because it’s all they know. However, when we’re able to show them options for creative products for their home, we’re able to reveal to them a whole new world of opportunities and increase our profits as a result.

Stanout Mount Family Pictures on a wall

For those of us lucky enough to have studio space, the first place to show products and therefore enhance our clients’ desire is with studio samples….of everything you offer. That sounds like a lot, I know. But if you show it you will sell it; if you don’t – you won’t. It’s really that simple. If you want to show in the most persuasive way, purchase samples of each product for each type of session you do: an album sample for baby, wedding, senior and family. It may feel like overkill and non-essential, but we’ve found that our clients are NOT visual. So displaying a sample that is very close to what they have in mind to purchase can make all the difference.

Tuscany Album Photography Sales Session


If you don’t have a display space of your own, find it somewhere else! Local coffee shops often like to display the work of artists in their area, as do the library, your community art center and restaurants. The key here is “local” – it can be a win/win partnership if you can promote the local business owner as they’re promoting you.

If all else fails, create a traveling case of samples! Make it something that will fit in a box or a rolling suitcase and take it to meet your client at a coffee shop or their home! What’s most important is that you’re able to show the creativity and quality of what you have to offer.


Photography Order using Black River Imaging's custom notepads


Once you’ve created the desire for your products, make the purchasing process easy. Doing viewing and ordering sessions in person with your clients is the simplest, most efficient way to make the sale. Your clients will feel confident in their decision if you are there as the “artist” giving your recommendations. This is also proven to be the most lucrative way to sell. And believe it or not, you don’t have to be a high pressure sales person to do this. Your job is to be a consultant in the decision-making process. Scared? This can be learned! We have some great resources for you listed at the end of this post.

Here’s a note we recently received from a workshop student who consequently made the move to in-person sales. Let her words encourage you to make positive changes in your business!

“The money is AWESOME, but when I help clients order, and give them quality products, it is so much more rewarding than sending out a gallery link and sitting at my computer with my heart racing just waiting to get a response. [With in-person sales] I get to see the tears, hear the gasps, and know the joy that I’m giving people. So. Much. Cooler. As I submitted an order so large it almost made me cry, I thought I should let you know, that you altered my path completely. I’m going to do this forever. I’m not going to shoot and burn into burn-out. My kids get to be with me everyday, and get to watch me grow a dream into something amazing. They get to know they can do that too.” – Crystal Phillips Photography

Interested in selling to clients in person? Here are some great ways to educate yourself!

Video. We always wished we could just watch how someone did an actual in-person sales session, so we finally created one ourselves! Watch a preview and order a DVD!

Facebook. Join this amazing group, In-person Sales for the Professional Photographer, for information, encouragement and support as you begin your journey toward in-person sales.

Live. Come see us in Baltimore, MD at the upcoming In-person Sales for Photographers conference! Small numbers mean we’ll be able to spend time doing personal mentoring. We’d love to meet you and help make big changes in your business.

Whitney Scott  is a Black River Imaging Featured Artist. Her emotion-filled, storytelling style of portraiture has earned her and her husband/business partner, David, not only awards, but a loyal clientele across the country.  Based in Bella Vista, AR, they produce all their work on location and conduct proofing sessions around their dining room table or at clients’ homes when traveling. Their high-profit, low-volume business structure and strong in-person sales techniques have enabled them to work less while living life more. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Still photography courtesy of Whitney Scott Photography’s In-Person Sales Session video.